THE SECRETARY-GENERAL -- REMARKS AT THE DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD MEDAL CEREMONY
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let us begin today’s ceremonies with a moment of silence in memory of all the peacekeepers that have lost their lives while serving under the UN flag.
[PAUSE FOR SILENCE]
The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers inspires great pride and inspiration.
On this day, the peacekeeping community, both at the headquarters and around the world, gathers to honour our heroes.
The challenges and threats faced by our peacekeepers are immense.
They work hard every day to protect some of the world’s most vulnerable, while facing the dual threats of violence and a global pandemic.
Despite COVID-19, across all our missions, peacekeepers have not only been adapting to continue to deliver their core tasks, they are also assisting national and community efforts to fight the virus.
I am proud of the work they have done.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,
The focus of this year’s peacekeeper’s day is youth, peace and security. In countries where our missions operate, peace cannot be achieved without the active participation of young people.
From CAR to DRC to Lebanon, our peacekeepers work with youth to reduce violence and sustain peace, including through Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration and Community violence reduction programmes.
In doing so, our very own young peacekeepers bring new ideas, hope and energy to our operations. They engage effectively with local populations and contribute to the improvement of overall performance and mandate delivery.
We salute the dedication and bravery of all our peacekeepers – women and men, the young and the slightly older – and we remain grateful for their service and sacrifice.
They deserve our full support, and we must continue to work together to do all that we can to improve their safety and security and give them the tools to succeed.
Excellencies, dear friends,
Moments ago, I laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers Memorial to honour the more than 4,000 women and men who have lost their lives since 1948 while serving under the blue flag.
We are gathered here today to posthumously honour with the Dag Hammarskjöld medal 129 brave men and women who lost their life serving under the UN flag last year and in the first month of this year.
Our fallen peacekeepers – uniformed and civilian – lost their lives due to malicious acts, in accidents and as a result of illness – including COVID-19.
They came from 44 different countries and diverse backgrounds but were united by a common purpose: to serve our great Organization, promote peace and security and improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
We are forever in their debt.
I offer my sincere condolences to their families and friends and I hope that the medals presented today offer some comfort. Their ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten, and they will always be in our hearts.